The (Nb + In) co-doped TiO2 ceramics were synthesized by conventional solid-state sintering (CSSS) and spark plasma sintering (SPS) methods. The phases and microstructures were studied by X-ray diffraction, Raman spectra, field-emission scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, indicating that both samples were in pure rutile phase while showing significant difference in grain size. The dielectric and I-V behaviors of SPS and CSSS samples were investigated. Though both possess colossal permittivity (CP), the SPS samples exhibited much higher dielectric permittivity/loss factor and lower breakdown electric field when compared to their CSSS counterparts. To further explore the origin of CP in co-doped TiO2 ceramics, the I-V behavior was studied on single grain and grain boundary in CSSS sample. The nearly ohmic I-V behavior was observed in single grain, while GBs showed nonlinear behavior and much higher resistance. The higher dielectric permittivity and lower breakdown electric field in SPS samples, thus, were thought to be associated with the feature of SPS, by which reduced space charges and/or impurity segregation can be achieved at grain boundaries. The present results support that the grain boundary capacitance effect plays an important role in the CP and nonlinear I-V behavior of (Nb + In) co-doped TiO2 ceramics.
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